Rugby League:Wilson's wiles guide Widnes fightback

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The Independent Online
By Dave Hadfield

Widnes 32 Hunslet 25

A TRY from their effervescent winger, Peter Smith, four minutes from time capped a remarkable comeback by Widnes yesterday in as exciting a match as the First Division will produce this season. When Aaron Campbell went 90 yards for an interception try to put them 16 points ahead early in the second half it seemed that Hunslet were certain to maintain their unbeaten start to the league campaign.

But that reckoned without the resilience of Widnes and particularly the skills of Shane Wilson in the centres. In the space of five minutes the Australian created one try for Gareth Cunningham with a beautifully delayed pass and then, irresistibly, for one of his own. Two conversions and a penalty from Paul Howell brought Widnes to within two points, but then the Hunslet player-coach, David Plange, seemed to have swung the match back in his side's direction.

Plange, a Great Britain international 10 years ago and now well into his thirties, prevented one try with a crunching tackle on Jason Hunter and then found the strength in his legs to go 60 yards down the touchline and set up St John Ellis to touch down.

The crisis appeared to be over, but then Tane Manihera found a hole in the Hunslet defence, Howell kicked the goal again and Widnes were level.

They failed to set up a drop goal to break the deadlock, but then Wilson's high kick took an eccentric bounce and Kyle White's pass sent Smith roaring over.

Widnes had struggled in the first half, conceding tries to Ian Smales, John Clarke and Paul Mannson as Hunslet looked too strong and experienced for them. Jamie Bloem's try kept them vaguely in touch, but the real drama was yet to come.

Widnes: Bloem; Cunningham, D Myler, S Wilson, Smith; Howell, Manihera; Makin, Gartland, White, Harris, Gildart, P Myler. Substitutes used: Briers, Hunter, George.

Hunslet: Coult; Campbell, D'Arcy, Ellis, Butt; Mannson, Tawhai; Pryce, Clarke, Richards, R Wilson, Thackray, Smales. Substitutes used: Coyle, Egan, Plange.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).